The Higher Energy-Performing New Homes (HEP Homes) project

Author: 19/11/2014

We are currently working with the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) to deliver an innovative report on the challenges and opportunities of delivering higher energy-performing new homes (HEP Homes) in the region.

SEMLEP is the host to 11 local authorities. Between them, they plan to build 86,000 new homes up to 2021 – an average of 11,000 per year. Building these homes to high energy-performing standards offers the potential to reduce long-term embedded carbon in the region’s housing stock. SEMLEP’s aims are to improve the overall number of houses built, as well as build them to the highest possible standards, securing jobs and prosperity through high grade infrastructure, services, energy and all associated new home requirements.

The issue of energy performance in homes is particularly crucial at a time when research demonstrates that energy use in new homes ‘as-built’ is typically 2.5 times the ‘as-designed’ performance. In some instances, it can be up to 7.5 times. Avoiding this is critical and would demonstrate good quality management throughout the process of building homes, increase values and reduce the ‘planning footprint’ of new homes – ie: the demand for energy and other resources to support new developments. This is a key concern for local authorities when considering additional developments and a major brake on getting numbers of homes built.

The HEP Homes project

The National Energy Foundation is undertaking the HEP Homes project, in collaboration with, and funded by, SEMLEP. HEP Homes is about providing research and discussions on the topic for beneficiaries throughout the SEMLEP region, and it runs from September 2014 to February 2015. The project is undertaking extensive engagement with stakeholders across the sector, including major developers, local authorities, supply chain partners, community organisations and others. The process is highly open and transparent, welcoming discussion and interaction with anyone having an interest in this issue.

To kickstart the project, we convened a workshop at Cranfield Innovation Centre on Tuesday, 4 November. The workshop was an initial project meeting and the aim was to promote and increase understanding of the need and opportunity to build HEP Homes, as well as to gain views of those who have an interest in the sector. It provided attendees with some background to the challenges involved with achieving HEP homes, through a presentation, based on our experience working in the region. The workshop also gathered views on the barriers that will need to be broken down in order to improve performance. This was done through an open workshop process, through which attendees:

  • Identified their primary ‘barriers to progress’.
  • Were grouped in to four main ‘theme’ areas - ‘Consumer Education’, ‘Policy’,  ‘Skills and Limits within the Building Industry’ and ‘Cost/Viability’.
  • Listed all the major issues under their group's theme.
  • Picked the three largest issues to target.
  • Listed the ‘needs/wants' stakeholders in the sector needed to resolve those issues.

Next steps for the HEP Homes project

The project is continuing to interact with stakeholders from across the industry. We are welcoming views on the topics of interest – including case studies, relevant data and opinions on the challenges.